Focken rises, Stadnik Takes Top Tokyo Seed after Gold at Poland Open


WARSAW, Poland (June 10) --- Just over a month ago, Aline FOCKEN (GER) was in Warsaw for the European Championships with an aim to become the continental champion. She, however, failed to do so after losing in the quarterfinals.

“I wanted a lot [at European Championships],” Focken said. “I wanted to be the champion and put myself under a lot of pressure and made mistakes.”

Just in the space of seven weeks, Focken transformed herself with a mature approach to her bouts which helped her win the gold medal at the Poland Open in Warsaw on Thursday.

With the gold medal, she also passed Hiroe MINAGAWA SUZUKI (JPN) for the number two seed in Tokyo.

“The difference today was I was calm and wanted to wrestle and she how the progress was going,” she said.

On Thursday, Rotter Focken shut out Dymond Precious GUILFORD (USA), Aline DA SILVA FERREIRA (BRA) and Epp MAEE (EST) and only surrendered one point against Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN) en route to winning her second Ranking Series title and first since the ’18 Yasar Dogu.

The top-four seeds at the Olympic Games will be Adeline GRAY (USA), Rotter Focken, Minagawa and Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ), respectively.

Focken admitted that she has been struggling to be consistent at the 76kg despite winning the world title, explaining it as the pressure she puts herself under.

“My problem is that I put myself under a lot of pressure to win every tournament,” she said. “But there are so many tough opponents, it's not possible to win every time. But I want to and I make mistakes.”

But her performance in Warsaw was a sneak into what she has been working on, making her a potential threat to the Olympic title.

“I have to work a lot,” she said. “I am working on my mental side a lot. I changed the weight class from 69kg to 76kg so that's difficult. I try to stay calm and focus on myself.”

In the final, Focken devised a strategy to keep her rival Epp MAEE (EST) at bay and win 3-0.

“We have known each other for long because we train in camps a lot,” she said. “I wanted to score my own points. It's difficult to score as she is small and moves really good. But I also did work in the second round to get more movement and score. I had no plan how to score but I wanted to and I did.”

Mariya STADNIK (AZE) was also in Warsaw in April and she captured the gold at European Championships. She repeated that feat as she won the 50kg gold at the Poland Open.

In the process, she also stole the number one seed at the Olympic Games from former number one seed Emilia VUC (ROU) after storming her way to an early morning 12-2 victory. In their rematch of the gold-medal match from the ’19 World Championships, Stadnik gave up the initial takedown but scored 12 consecutive points in 25 seconds.

She also scored technical superiority wins over Erin GOLSTON (USA) and Mariia TIUMEREKOVA (RUS) on her way to the finals, where she met her ’21 European semifinals opponent Oksana LIVACH (UKR).

“I am happy with today's result because before this I came to the camp from the mountains and it is hard to breathe a little on the mat when you do that. It feels like you are a heavyweight,” Stadnik said.

“But this competition was needed because I need to check myself before the Olympics. I have only two months left.”


In the finals, Stadnik quickly jumped out to an early 7-0 lead against the Ukrainian world bronze medalist The Azeri two-time world champion scored on a step out, four-point toss, and ahead inside single leg before surrendering a step out of her own. She capitalized on a late open shot attempt from Livach and spun behind for the 9-1 lead. Despite failing to score in the second period and giving up three unanswered points, Stadnik held on to the 9-3 win and claimed 16 Ranking Series points.

Her performance on Thursday was a big improvement from Euro Championships as she was still regaining shape after a long gap due to COVID.

“For a year and a half I did not participate anywhere and it was difficult psychologically. Here I was in better shape and I was more confident.,” she said.

The three-time Olympic medalist is chasing a career-defining gold medal in Tokyo after winning two silver and a bronze at her previous Games appearances.

“I will do everything physically and mentally that I can in order to win the gold medal,” she said. “Five seconds were enough to deny be a gold at Olympics last time. Everything is in the hands of God and he knows if I will win or not but I will do everything to ensure that I can.”

Stadnik is now the 50kg top seed at the Olympic Games with 76 points, followed by Vuc, Livach and Valentina Ivanovna ISLAMOVA BRIK (KAZ), respectively.

At 62kg, Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) overpowered Ana GODINEZ (CAN) in the gold-medal match and will be the top seed at 62kg in Tokyo.

AIsuluu Tynybekova

Coming into the Poland Open, the ’19 world champion already amassed a 34-point lead over second-seeded Taybe YUSEIN (BUL). She added 16 Ranking Series points on Thursday – bringing her overall total to 106 points – and will sit in the top spot of the bracket in Tokyo.

Talking about her wrestling on Thursday, the world champion was not particularly happy with how she started the tournament. Against Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS), she was trailing 2-8 after the first period but rallied to score 12 points and the fall in the second.

“Overall, it was a good day but to be honest my coach is unhappy with me because he set a task for me which I couldn't fully complete,” Tynybekova said. “I was very relaxed in the first bout of the day. I have to work harder on my fitness so that such situation does not arrive in the future.”

The second through fourth seeds at 62kg in Tokyo will be Yusein, Yuliia TKACH OSTAPCHUK (UKR) and Yukako KAWAI (JPN), respectively.

At 55kg, Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) thunderously threw Sumiya ERDENECHIMEG (MGL) and picked up the 90-second fall to win gold. Since early ’20, Khoroshavtseva qualified Russian for the Olympic Games at 53kg, and has won the European C’ships twice, Ivan Yariguin, Russian National C’ships, and Poland Open. She also finished with a bronze medal at the ’20 Individual World Cup.

In the 65kg finals, Henna JOHANSSON (SWE) jabbed her back from a six-point deficit to win her fourth consecutive Ranking Series gold medal. Her finals opponent Anastasiia LAVRENCHUK (UKR) came out firing, double legging Johansson to her rear end for the early four-point advantage. Johansson surrendered another takedown in the first, but just before the period closed, the Tokyo Olympian at 62kg added a freight-train four-point double leg and cut her Ukrainian foes lead to 6-4.

Johansson scored the only two points of the second period and added another Ranking Series title to her resume with the 6-6 win. After finishing with a bronze medal at the ’18 Klippan Lady Open, she’s won Ranking Series golds at the Dan Kolov, City of Sassari Tournament, Yasar Dogu, and now, the Poland Open.



50kg (12 entries) +8
GOLD - Mariya STADNIK (AZE) df. Oksana LIVACH (UKR), 9-4
BRONZE - Mariia TIUMEREKOVA (RUS) df. Erin Simone GOLSTON (USA), 9-7
BRONZE - Valentina Ivanovna ISLAMOVA BRIK (KAZ) df. Nadezhda SOKOLOVA (RUS), via fall


62kg (11 entries) +8
GOLD - Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) df. Ana GODINEZ (CAN), 7-1
BRONZE - Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) df. Svetlana LIPATOVA (RUS), 6-3
BRONZE - Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR) df. Jennifer Page ROGERS PAGE (USA), 16-4

GOLD - Henna JOHANSSON (SWE) df Anastasiia LAVRENCHUK (UKR), 6-6
BRONZE - Aleksandra WOLCZYNSKA (POL) df. Linnea SVENSSON (SWE), via fall
BRONZE - Taybe YUSEIN (BUL) df Kamila KULWICKA (POL), 3-2

76kg (13 entries) +8
BRONZE - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) df. Aiperi MEDET KYZY (KGZ), via fall
BRONZE - Erica WIEBE (CAN) df Dymond GUILFORD (USA), 7-3


Double Olympic Champ Vlasov Suffers Loss, Hurts Tokyo Games Chances

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (June 12) --- “The smallest,” Roman VLASOV (RUS) did not mince his words when asked about his chances to make the Russian team for the Tokyo Olympics.

He was the favorite to win the 77kg weight class in Warsaw on Saturday but the Russian suffered a shock defeat to the rising star Tamas LEVAI (HUN) in the semifinal 1-1, hurting his own chances of making the Russian team for the Games.

It was one of those matches where Vlasov failed to find his rhythm despite being the aggressive wrestler. He did not anticipate the tactics Levai deployed first to come out unharmed from the par terre position and then defend the 1-1 criteria lead until the end of time.

The two-time Olympic champion's fate now hangs in balance as Russia will decide the the Tokyo Olympian later this month.


In the 77kg final, Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS) manhandled Levai -- outplacing Vlasov in the process -- and will likely square off against fellow world champion Aleksander CHEKHIRKIN (RUS) for the Russian 77kg at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Much like Iran did earlier in the week with their freestyle squad, Russia used the Poland Open as a special wrestle-off. But in the case of Russia’s 77kg spot, they used the Poland Open as a placeholder for a spot in a showdown against Chekhirkin, who punched his nation’s ticket to Tokyo through his gold-medal performance at the European Olympic Qualifier in March.

It’s not clear when or where the special wrestle-off will take place, but once that information is available, it’ll be posted on www.uww.org and all of our social media accounts.

However, Iran got their Olympian at 130kg. In the all-Iranian battle for the gold and a place on the team for Tokyo, Amin MIRZAZADEH (IRI) used a mean underhook throw-by with 45 seconds left in the second period to pick up the match's only offensive points against Aliakbar YOUSOFIAHMADCHALI (IRI). That was the match-deciding takedown, as Mirzazadeh claimed gold with the 3-1 victory.


There was a third Iranian wrestler -- Amir GHASEMIMONJEZI (IRI) -- part of the process but Muminjon ABDULLAEV (UZB) defeated him 8-0 in the quarterfinal to end his run for the Olympics.

Abdullaev finished with the bronze medal and will receive 12 points, breaking into the top four seedings for the Olympics. Her 12 points made her jump over Moises Salvador PEREZ HELLBURG (VEN) and sit fourth with 40 points.

At 67kg, Murat FIRAT (TUR) forged a five-point second-period comeback and stopped Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY) from putting a third Ranking Series gold on his resume. The 24-year-old Turk surrendered an inactivity point and a right-sided two-point gut wrench against the Tokyo Olympian, but conserved enough energy to string together five unanswered points and steal the match from the Egyptian.

Firat’s point-scoring frenzy started with a pair of step-outs, followed by a two-point exposure that results from an inactivity point.

What the silver medal does is take Elsayed to second place in the Tokyo seeds at 67kg as he collected 12 points for his silver medal. His total of 50 points keeps him behind Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) who has 80 points but he moves ahead of Artem SURKOV (RUS) and Mate NEMES (SRB) who have 40 points and 39 points respectively.

Elsayed said he missed competing internationally and due to lack of training due to COVID-19, he was not 100 percent on Saturday. But the U23 world champion was confident of being in best shape for the Olympics.

Another Olympic qualified athlete claimed the gold medal as Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) traded inactivity points with Yaroslav FILCHAKOV (UKR) and held criteria in the end and grabbed 82kg gold.

The youngsters' win here doesn't give any ranking points for the Tokyo Olympics as he will be moving down to 77kg at the Olympics.

At 55kg, Max NOWRY (USA) was awarded the gold medal as he was the only entry in the weight class.

Greco-Roman wrestling will continue on Sunday with five more weight categories in action in Warsaw.



GOLD - Murat FIRAT (TUR) df. Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), 5-3
BRONZE - Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) df. Makhmud BAKHSHILLOEV (UZB), via injury default
BRONZE - Bohdan KOVERNYUK (UKR) df. Mateusz SZEWCZUK (POL), 4-1

GOLD - Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS) df. Tamas LEVAI (HUN), 9-0
BRONZE - Yasaf ZEINALOV (UKR) df. Yunus Emre BASAR (TUR), via injury default

GOLD – Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) df. Yaroslav FILCHAKOV (UKR), 1-1
BRONZE - Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) df. Magnus GROENVIK (NOR), 9-0

GOLD - Amin Mohammadzaman MIRZAZADEH (IRI) df. Aliakbar Hossein YOUSOFIAHMADCHALI (IRI), 3-1
BRONZE - Eduard POPP (GER) df. Heiki NABI (EST), via injury default